By Chuckie Maggio, @chuckiemaggio
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies take on the Dartmouth Big Green in the team’s official home opener Saturday night at the Reilly Center.
The game features a big contrast in playing styles. The Bonnies feature a fast-paced offense with the goal of scoring before the defense can set up. The Big Green play a slow, half-court game similar to their Ivy League counterparts that ranked them 307th in Division I in possessions per game with 65.
Bonaventure enters as the favorite, but will they come out with the victory? Here’s the breakdown:
St. Bonaventure: Mark Schmidt: 106-110 as Bonnies coach.
Dartmouth: Paul Cormier. 118-178 as Big Green coach.
Key players for Dartmouth:
Alex Mitola- 5-11 junior guard. Mitola led the Big Green in scoring last year, with 11.8 points a game on 41% shooting from the floor. He also led the Ivy League in free throw percentage with an 86.8% mark. Mitola is one of the go-to guys and will be counted on to hit big shots as he tries to keep Dartmouth in the game.
Gabas Maldunas- 6-9 senior forward. A co-captain with Mitola, Maldunas is a great player on both sides of the court. He averaged 11.2 points per game and grabbed 8.5 rebounds a contest in an injury-shortened season where he tore his ACL. His rehab was successful and he figures to return to form this year.
Connor Boehm- 6-7 junior forward. Boehm completes Dartmouth’s “Big Three.” He averaged 10.9 points a game last year with 5.6 rebounds. His 52.9% field goal percentage indicates that he is very efficient offensively, and the Bonnies will have to closeout on him from three.
Keys to victory for Dartmouth: For the Big Green, a sizeable underdog, to escape the Reilly Center with a win, they are going to have to shoot the ball very well. Their field goal percentage is going to have to hover around 50% and they will have to knock down almost all of their free throws. If Bonaventure breaks out the full-court press again like they did against Mansfield, Dartmouth will have to find a way to break it and limit turnovers. They will not be able to jog up the court and get their sets ready; they have to be ready for chaos from the jump.
Keys to victory for Bonaventure: Push the tempo and keep up some constant pressure. A slow team like Dartmouth is going to be flustered against a pressurized attack, and this will be favorable for the Bonnies. As long as they force turnovers and run the floor, SBU will get the win.
The Prediction: 83-71 Bonnies